Labiaplasty can be a delicate topic to discuss, and some of you might be a little shy to ask the questions you might have if you are considering having a labiaplasty. We’ve been getting quite a few enquiries recently about this procedure quickly increasing in popularity, so we asked Dr Patrick Tansley and Dr Sugitha Seneviratne from NorthEast Plastic Surgery who were more than happy to answer your questions, and some more of ours!
What are the main reasons that patients consult with you regarding having a labiaplasty? What are the most common requests from patients wanting a labiaplasty?
Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure to remove excess tissue of the inner vaginal lips, referred to medically as the labia minora. In some patients, this tissue causes functional problems such as chafing or difficulty maintaining hygiene. In others it causes more of an aesthetic issue that perhaps may be affecting intimate personal relationships. Addressing either or both of these issues are the most common reasons for patients to seek assistance.
Is there a particular demographic for whom labiaplasties are more popular? Is it more popular with the younger generation, or the older generation say after menopause?
NorthEast Plastic Surgery most commonly undertakes this surgery in younger women typically in their 20’s to 40’s but occasionally we are asked to treat older ladies also.
What exactly does a labiaplasty procedure involve? How long does the procedure take?
Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure undertaken in a hospital setting under a short general anaesthetic of around 45 minutes. Following correct positioning of the patient, the required incision lines are carefully marked on the labia minora. Local anaesthetic containing adrenaline is then infiltrated to assist with surgical dissection, control of bleeding and post-operative discomfort. Appropriate tissue is then excised, most importantly leaving adequate cover around the clitoral hood. Any bleeding is precisely controlled prior to layered wound closure using dissolvable sutures. This avoids the need for uncomfortable suture removal post operatively. Simple dressings are applied prior to the patient leaving the operating room.
Are there different approaches to a labiaplasty procedure?
Yes. At NorthEast Plastic Surgery, we select the surgical technique most appropriate for any given patient in accordance with their tissue morphology. The various techniques need to be tailored to meet individual specific requirements. Such a surgical armamentarium can only be acquired following appropriate training and education, qualifications and experience. As for any cosmetic/aesthetic surgical procedure, always ensure the surgeon you consider choosing has an appropriate background in cosmetic/aesthetic surgery. A reputable surgeon will not mind being asked about this. In February 2018 it was officially recognised by the Australian Medical Council that plastic surgical training in Australia and New Zealand has a ‘gap’ in this area. Therefore, do not be afraid to ask what training your prospective surgeon has had, in particular if he/she has undergone specific periods of post-Fellowship cosmetic/aesthetic surgical training. If their answer is ‘no’, just walk away.
Talk us through the recovery or after care of a labiaplasty? How soon can a woman have sex after a labiaplasty? How long should a labiaplasty patient expect off work?
At NorthEast Plastic Surgery we schedule regular clinical follow up and counsel our patients regarding post-operative hygiene strategies including avoidance of thrush, use of cushions and appropriate physical movements during healing. Vaginal sex should be avoided for a few weeks until healing is complete. Approximately one week off work should suffice in most cases.
Are there any risks of a labiaplasty? Is there any risk of reduced sensation? Is there any increased risks for women who have had a labiaplasty to have a vaginal birth?
All surgical procedures carry some risks. Your surgeon should discuss these with you carefully, along with minimisation strategies, prior to surgery being undertaken. Risk of reduced sensation is most unlikely along with problematic vaginal delivery in the setting of optimal wound healing and where the surgery has been undertaken by a properly qualified, trained and experienced surgeon.
Are there any scars that result from a labiaplasty? If so, are there any ways to minimise these, especially considering it’s such a sensitive area?
A scar will result from any surgical procedure in most circumstances, but in the context of labiaplasty surgery it is very well hidden. NorthEast Plastic Surgery offers scar maturation strategy advice to all of our patients and in the context of good wound healing should result in optimal outcome.
Is labiaplasty ever covered by Medicare in particular circumstances?
Yes, if a woman is affected by functional concerns.
MB BChir (Cantab) PGDipSurgAnat BSc (Hons) MScAesPlasSurg MD FRCS (Eng) FRCS (Plast) FACCS
Director | NorthEast Plastic Surgery
MBBS (Hons) FRACS (Plast) FACCS
Director | NorthEast Plastic Surgery
To read about Katie’s* labiaplasty check out her blog here.